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DCLG strikes back

The Government has hit back at claims that it is not doing enough to ensure installers are kept up to date or are complying with Part L of the Building Regulations. Last week (H&V News April 21), the water treatment industry accused the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) of insufficiently communicating and disseminating revised regulation guidance. As a result, some installers remained unaware of the changes and were not complying with the new guidance. The DCLG was also said to be poor at communicating the precise details of what installers needed to do to comply with the revised policies, and at making the compliance documentation freely available and easily accessible. In a statement to H&V News, the DCLG robustly defended its performance: “To raise awareness of the 2006 Part L changes, we launched the largest dissemination and training campaign ever in relation to a Building Regulations amendment, targeted at building control bodies and industry. “This included train-the-trainer workshops to instruct over 200 industry trainers. A substantial number of seminars, regional road shows and workshops for building control were held in 2005 and 2006. “An e-learning pack that walks through the new Part L, as applied in example building situations, was circulated to all local authority building control officers and approved inspectors in England and Wales.” In addition, the Department said it had introduced a simplified approach to demonstrating compliance and simplified technical guidance in the new approved documents. It had also set up of a number of Competent Persons self-certification schemes. Bob Towse, HVCA head of technical and safety at industry body, remained unconvinced. He said: “That’s a very good list that the DCLG has compiled, and it certainly ticks all the boxes. While it may have ticked all the boxes, we don’t believe that the DCLG has ticked them very well.” He said the DCLG did not disseminate the changes to the regulations to the wider public properly, causing problems for its members. “When the new rules on high efficiency boilers came into force we received so much feedback from our domestic members whose customers simply did not believe that they were abiding by the regulations, and that they were not simply just ripping them off. We then produced our own DVD for customers explaining what the new rules and requirements were.” “That was one case where the DCLG did not disseminate the changes to the regulations properly, and it fell to industry to help it to promote all the changes,” he countered. He said there were still issues with compliance. “In terms of our non-domestic and commercial members, we are receiving feedback which suggests that local authority building control departments (LABCDs) are not adhering to notification rules in the Building Regulations or enforcing compliance. “The DCLG, when notified of this, simply says that it can’t enforce the rules, it can only advise and make suggestions to LABCDs. We know for a fact that some LABCDs are saying to our members that some of the new building requirements and regulations are irrelevant. In fact, there are instances of where they are actively discouraging HVCA members from notifying them of their work. “We do sympathise with their difficulties and their resource issues. We have the ability to make their lives easier, which is one reason why we set up a Competent Persons scheme,” he concluded.